So it’s official. By about ten minutes. I’m thirty-one.
I’ve been working and travelling and writing and really don’t have time for a birthday.
Actually that’s probably just an excuse.
Truth is birthdays are becoming somewhat rote. Rather insignificant.
My twenty-first, ten years ago, that was something. Rang it in at Monty’s in Westwood overlooking the diamond studded hills of Bel Air. Came home and got sick off the side of the bed and passed out. When my friends called in the morning to pick me up to go to Big Bear I discovered, unfortunately, once I put the receiver to my ear, that my phone received the brunt of my vomit.
Tomorrow the wife and I are going to celebrate by getting a steak at Billingsley’s.
Looking back birthdays are good for one thing and that’s to mark the highway of your life with road signs. Five years ago I was in Boston with a bunch of friends, at Bukowski’s, a noisy hipster bar overlooking the Pike. I bought a pair of pants and a western shirt earlier that day at the Urban Outfitters on Newbury Street, special for the occasion. Four years ago I celebrated it in Denver, while filling in as a dogsitter for my father’s girlfriend, at the PS Lounge on Colfax Blvd. with my brother-in-law.
And three years ago I was in Big Bear again with my girlfriend. Amid a chance snowfall, the romantic crackling of the fire, and the rosy glow of cabernet, I proposed to her and she became my fiancee.
Back in good old 97, for my twenty-first, a dozen of my closest friends and I jammed into a cabin in Big Bear and drank a fridgefull of booze like fricken cavemen.
Apologies to these guys.
But we still managed to hit the slopes that Saturday all wobbly and crass, loud and making a scene. I remember launching jumps, and in midair feeling my stomach move and slosh. We managed to get in eight hours of boarding through sheer insanity and will.
This weekend I’m headed up to Mammoth. I won’t drink half as much as a decade ago but it’s not for lack of trying, I just don’t have the gills for it anymore and I haven’t been on a snowboard since 99. I hate to imagine the result.
It’s supposed to snow all weekend.
That’s all I could ask for. I’m a happy man. I don’t care if I fall down the whole mountain and ache like I just finished playing the Super Bowl without pads. It’s going to be great.
The longer I live the more simple my contentments become. It’s not that you lose your dreams, your exuberance, your passion; it’s just that you find them in smaller, warmer, cozier places.
I still get a touch of teenage angst every now and then, writer’s ennui, mysteriously… out of the blue, but it passes quickly. Just enough to keep me on my toes, help me feel young.
Overall, these days, I’m easily pleased. I’m happy with a good steak, a glass of wine, and a Naugahyde booth.
That right there is something to celebrate.